Many people find their relationship with their grandchildren to be one of the most precious of their lives. It is tragic when a dispute within the family, a divorce, or a child protection agency action disrupts the relationship or prevents contact altogether.
Although the law does not offer grandparents the absolute right to see their grandchild, consulting an attorney could be helpful. Under specific circumstances, a Boca Raton grandparent’s rights lawyer could take steps to restore contact.
The Law Gives Parents Broad Authority
State law gives parents the right to decide how to raise their children as long as they are physically and emotionally safe. A parent has the right to limit contact between their children and anyone else, including a grandparent.
Grandparents sometimes lose their relationship with grandchildren when their parents separate or divorce. When the daughter or son-in-law obtains primary physical custody (majority timesharing) of the children, they will sometimes cut off contact with their co-parent’s family. Consulting a Boca Raton lawyer is advisable, although grandparents typically may have little legal recourse.
Patience is essential: time might soften the parent’s attitude. Once the parent has had time to adjust to their situation, an inquiry about seeing the children might be successful. Mediation and family counseling could also be helpful in some cases.
Seeking Guardianship as Grandparents
Tragically, sometimes parents cannot care for their children due to illness, addiction, homelessness, mental health challenges, or other factors. A grandparent might offer the grandchildren a home, with or without the parent, until the parent resolves the underlying issue.
These arrangements are often informal. A grandparent providing a home for their grandchildren could establish temporary legal guardianship. Formal recognition as the temporary legal guardian allows a grandparent to make decisions about the healthcare and education of the child as well as obtain documents like a birth certificate. A parent must allow this guardianship.
When the grandparent has concerns about the parents’ abilities to provide the children a safe home, Florida Statutes § 751.03(9) allows them to petition the court for temporary timesharing (child custody/visitation) of the child. Doing so has serious consequences because unless the parents agree, the grandparents must prove they are unfit parents. A grandparent considering a timesharing (child custody/visitation) petition over the parents’ objections should consult with a Boca Raton attorney about the potential personal and legal implications.
When Parents Lose Custody of the Grandchildren
Grandparents sometimes lose contact with their grandchildren when child welfare authorities remove them from their parents’ care and place them in a group home or foster home. When an agency temporarily or permanently removes a child from their parents’ care, the law entitles grandparents and step-grandparents to timesharing (child custody/visitation).
Strict rules govern grandparent timesharing (visitation/custody) in these cases. If the grandparent allows the child to meet their parent during grandparent timesharing the grandparent may lose their right to timesharing (child custody/visitation) immediately.
If the parents eventually lose their parental rights, the grandparents’ rights to timesharing (custody) may persist. However, the child welfare agency or the child’s custodian could petition the court to terminate a grandparent’s timesharing rights. They might do this if they believe continuing timesharing is contrary to the child’s best interests or interferes with their readiness for permanent adoption. A lawyer in Boca Raton could help a grandparent express their rights and secure timesharing (child custody/visitation).
Consult a Boca Raton Grandparent’s Rights Attorney About Your Options
Grandparents fill a unique role in their grandchildren’s lives, and they fill a special role in your life. If personal or legal matters interfere with that bond, consult a Boca Raton grandparent’s rights lawyer.
Sometimes there is no legal option, and you have to try to repair damaged relationships. In other cases, however, you may have legal rights you could assert. Discuss your situation with a knowledgeable attorney to learn about your options. Call today to talk with our team about your situation.